Rianne Van Doeveren

Rianne Van Doeveren (Alternative Information Center - AIC): Rianne was born and raised in The Hague. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Leiden University. After her undergraduate studies she earned a scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree in international relations and diplomacy at Leiden University and Clingendael (The Netherlands Institute for International Affairs). She studied abroad in South Africa at Stellenbosch University. In South Africa, where she taught at a pre-primary school in the township Kayamandi. After her fellowship, Rianne wrote: "I could not have gained the deep level of understanding that I have developed of this region and occupation (it is hard to simply call it a conflict now) without this fellowship. It has proved to be worth more than my academic education thus far since it brought me back to reality and the importance of the actual events on the ground."

The Painters and Bingo-Players of Oush Grab

10 Jun

The painter stood
Before her work
She looked around everywhere
She saw the pictures and she painted them
She picked the colours from the air

(The Painter – Neil Young)

My first week had barely taken off when I found myself standing at a former military base staring at the work we had done. An overwhelmingly hot afternoon, a number of motivated Palestinians and internationals, a lot of paint, water and sweat were the necessary ingredients to shape a stance against a possible new illegal settlement in the Westbank. A non-violent stance that is, made up out of painting and playing Online Bingo Games at a place called Oush Grab.

A short history lesson teaches that Oush Grab, meaning Crow’s nest in Arabic, served as an Israeli military base from 1967 up until 2006. In this period the originally Jordan base grew at the expense of surrounding Palestinian landowners. Today, in 2008, the private confiscated land has been returned to its owners and the rest of Oush Grab has become public land under the authority and jurisdiction of the Beit Sahour municipality. However, at the top of the hill of Oush Grab, some deserted military structures remain in place and a military order still covers their presence. This means that even though it is public land, the municipality is not allowed to build or develop there. So far, some facts and figures.

Due to the lack of open spaces and safe playgrounds for children the municipality has decided to turn Oush Grab into a recreational area and picnic place. The construction is almost finished and families slowly make more and more use of the facilities offered. This process would move a lot quicker if they had no reason to fear the place, but unfortunately such a reason presented itself on May 15, known to Palestinians as Nakba day.



A group of about 40 settlers, some armed, appeared to take over the site at the top of the hill and declared that they wanted to build a new settlement outpost there. Thereupon the settlers spray painted slogans such as ‘Israel belongs to the Jews’, on the walls. The presence of the settlers at Oush Grab and the possibility of a new settlement outpost there threatens the security of the Beit Sahour community and the existence and use of the newly built safe recreational area. In order to defend the rights of this land local ngo’s have come together to promote the further integration of the site within the local community in order to show the importance it holds to Palestinians and the fact that a new settlement will not be accepted. They have decided to do this in a unique way; an organization named Decolonizing Architecture has created a plan to develop the hill top space for community usage without breaking the military order. In reality this translates into transforming the meaning of the place without any actual restructuring.



Armed with nothing but these motivations and buckets of paint volunteers have set to work to cover the racist graffiti with non political signs to turn the area into ‘Oush Grab Plaza’. A next step was taken on the friday that followed: a bingo. Even though the soldiers did not find it particularly amusing this is a unique way of peacefully refusing the place to turn into an illegal settlement, integrating it into the community and avoiding violent confrontation.

Oush Grab is one of those examples where it is necessary to distance yourself from the issue of Palestinians versus Israelis for a minute and realize that that is not even the case here. Factually the territory is acknowledged by both sides as public Palestinian land with a military order in place that currently prevents the development of the space. That’s all. The attempt by anyone to built anything is thus illegal and when the military order is lifted it remains illegal for Israeli settlers to occupy the space because it is Palestinian land. This is also why the Israeli military has removed settlers from the site.

Unfortunately, Oush Grab is only one of too many places in the Westbank where it is an urgent necessity to stand up for justice based on the rule of law and the actual facts on the ground.

Posted By Rianne Van Doeveren

Posted Jun 10th, 2008


  • Margot

    June 10, 2008


    Hey Rianne,
    It’s so interesting to read about your experiences over there, especially with everything we did in our classes last block; I’m envious of your jump out of the books and into the field!!
    Take care, be safe, and good luck over there! xoxo

  • Margot

    June 10, 2008


    Hey Rianne!
    It’s so interesting to be reading your blog after everything we studied last block, I’m envious of your leap out of the books and into the field!!
    Take care, be safe, and good luck!

  • Jeanne

    June 10, 2008


    Hee poek,

    Ik vind het toch maar een mooie manier om zo passief eigenlijk actie te voeren en daarnaast vind ik het toch ook maar een mooie manier om zo een stage plek door te brengen, al schilderend en bingo-end.

  • Jeanne

    June 10, 2008


    Ik snap er niks van, dacht dat ik net al iets had achtergelaten, maargoed poging 2: tof dat je je zo je stage kan doorbrengen, al schilderend en spelletjes spelend, maar zo’n passieve actie vind ik toch wel weer mooi meis! koes

  • Cris

    June 13, 2008


    Hey Rian,
    reading this new post of yours made me fell a bit afraid first but now Im starting to understand why did you choose to go there… You are those kind of special ones that DO the change, not just wait untill someone does it.
    Im really proud of you girl!
    Keep writing, ok?

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